Should You Wear Sunscreen Everyday?

Should You Wear Sunscreen Everyday?

Many of us are familiar with sunscreen. You’ve probably worn it before during long days at the beach, summertime hikes, or outdoor sporting events. But is it important to wear sunscreen even on days you’re staying inside? 

“Yes, you need to wear sunscreen every single day — no matter where you are or what you’re doing.”

  • Shani Darden, esthetician

The reality is that sun damage is a major cause of premature aging on your skin. While you might already know this, you’re probably still a little hesitant to make sunscreen a part of your daily routine.

As someone who spends a lot of time helping people correct and reverse the signs of aging brought on by the sun, I can tell you there isn’t a single day I would consider skipping my sunscreen. I’ll explain why and give you some tips and product recommendations to make adding sun protection to your skincare routine super easy. 

How Does the Sun Affect Your Skin?

Who doesn’t love the feel of the sun on their skin or the beautiful, sun-kissed glow they get after a little time in the sun? There’s nothing wrong with getting some sun exposure, but problems can arise when your exposed skin isn’t protected. 

The experts are clear on their recommendations: you need a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher when you are in direct sunlight. They also recommend wearing lightweight, protective clothing, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin from the sun’s rays and sunburn. 

Understanding UV Rays

There are two types of UV rays: UVA rays and UVB rays. These two types of rays are forms of ultraviolet radiation. UVA rays have longer wavelengths and are associated with skin aging, while UVB rays have shorter wavelengths and are associated with skin burning. 

Both types of rays can be dangerous for your skin and contribute to a range of skin issues, from sun spots to loss of elasticity, wrinkling, and even long-term skin concerns. 

Free Radicals 

You’ve probably heard the term “oxidative stress” or “oxidative damage.” These terms refer to bodily damage from molecules called free radicals. Free radicals don’t come from the sun but are produced in the body as a response to UV radiation. 

Free radicals are unbalanced molecules that can damage the DNA of your skin cells. When your skin cells then proliferate, they carry that damaged DNA to new skin cells. This can result in wrinkling, sagging skin, and clusters of melanin that cause dark spots. 

Who’s at Risk of Sun Damage?

Everyone is at risk of sun damage, even if they work indoors and never visit the beach. UVA rays can pass through glass, so you could be at risk of skin damage even when you’re on an airplane, in a car, on a train, or sitting by a window. 

You’re also at risk on cloudy days just as much as you are on sunny days. In fact, you might be more at risk because it’s harder to feel your skin getting hot or burning on a cloudy day than it is on a sunny day. 

Although lighter skin tones might burn more easily in the sun, dark skin types are also at risk of burning and developing skin damage. Darker skin types naturally have more melanin in their skin, which means more exposure to the sun could mean the appearance of dark spots. 

What Does Skin Damage Look Like?

A few hours spent tanning in the sun might make you feel great. But remember, tanning is the skin’s natural, protective response to sun exposure. It’s a defense. 

A lot of skin damage can happen in your childhood and in your early twenties, which is why it’s vital to make sure you’re wearing sunscreen to protect against UV exposure. 

Sun damage can cause:

  • Loss of elasticity in the skin. The sun breaks down elastin, a protein in the skin that helps it keep its shape and snap back into place when it’s been stretched. This can cause wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Fine lines and deep wrinkles. Free radicals that damage skin cells can cause wrinkles and lines to appear faster than they would simply from aging alone. 
  • Sunspots. Dark spots, also known as age spots or liver spots, can form on the skin and be difficult to fade.

Wearing sunscreen year-round (not just in the summer months) and protecting your skin from the sun should be a part of your total wellness plan.

What Type of Sunscreen Should You Use?

If your sunscreen feels claggy, oily, or clogs your pores, then you’re using the wrong type of sunscreen. There are two different types of sunscreens available: chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen.

  • Chemical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreen is absorbed into the skin and reacts with UV rays to convert them into energy, which is released from the skin before it can cause damage. The most popular active ingredients in these sunscreens are avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone. 
  • Physical sunscreen. Physical sunscreen acts like a shield on the skin, sitting on top of the shield and deflecting UV rays. The two most popular physical sunscreen ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Because these are minerals, physical sunscreen is often referred to as mineral sunscreen. 

Both sunscreens are effective, and I don’t necessarily prefer one over the other. I believe chemical sunscreens can be formulated with clean ingredients that may work better for some skin types than a physical sunscreen. 

If you have sensitive skin, you may want to consider a physical sunscreen, especially if your skin has reacted to chemical sunscreens in the past.

It’s also important to consider the sun protection factor (SPF). This number represents how effective the sunscreen is at keeping out the sun’s rays, and while experts recommend SPF 30, it’s important to use sunscreen that works best for your skin.

What Are Shani’s Favorite Sunscreens?

You could say I’m a little suncare obsessed — and I’d be okay with it. I have a collection of suncare products I love, and I’ve personally vetted each of them to make sure they provide everything you need.

My top picks do the following:

  • Offer adequate sun protection
  • Add benefits to your skincare routine (like hydration, light pigment coverage, or anti-aging benefits)
  • Feel lightweight and are easily absorbed

Trust me — these formulas will rapidly become staples in your morning skincare routine, and you and your dermatologist will be happy. 

Everyday Sunscreen

Hands down, it’s Supergoop! Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50. This sunscreen doubles as a moisturizer that won’t leave your pores feeling congested. 

It’s also so lightweight and rapidly absorbing that you’ll never notice it. This formula provides broad spectrum coverage so that you don’t have to worry about UVA or UVB rays, and it also includes oat fraction extract to help your skin retain moisture. 

Beach Day Go-To 

When you know you’ll be outdoors, you need water-resistant protection that will last. I love ColoreScience Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Face Shield Glow SPF 50. This physical sunscreen protects with 12 percent zinc oxide and has pearlescent pigments to lend your skin a healthy, radiant glow. It’s also formulated with iron oxides to protect against photoaging from blue light. 

ColoreScience also has a patented ingredient called Lipochroman™ to protect against environmental stressors (free radicals), which can help to give you all-around coverage.

Light Coverage Sunscreen

I love a good dual-purpose product, and the ColoreScience Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Face Shield Flex SPF 50 is one of my favorites. It’s available in four different shades to match any skin tone and, like its non-pigmented cousin, is formulated with 12 percent zinc oxide to protect against sun damage. 

I love that this product also includes niacinamide (vitamin B3) and bisabolol to soothe the skin and support the skin barrier. It’s like makeup, skincare, and sun protection in one product. 

Powder Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens are also available in powder form, which can make them easy to apply and help them feel ultra-lightweight. 

I have two I frequently recommend:

  • ColoreScience Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Brush-On Shield SPF 50. This formula is similar to Brush-On Shield Glow, but it’s available in adjustable shades to match your skin tone and provide lightweight coverage. It protects with a blend of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and is formulated with hyaluronic acid and a blend of antioxidants for free radical protection. 

Wearing sunscreen is non-negotiable. It’s generally important to apply sunscreen every morning after you finish your skincare routine. Luckily, these formulas make it super easy to add sun protection into your everyday routine. 

Be Sun Smart

Yes, you need to wear sunscreen every single day — no matter who you are, where you are, or what you’re doing. It’s my number one skincare tip and the secret of anyone who has naturally radiant, healthy-looking skin. It’s never too late (or too soon) to start, so go ahead — pick out your sunscreen and enjoy the sun while supporting your skin health.


What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays? | University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics

Sunscreen FAQs |

Photoaging (Sun Damage) > Fact Sheets | Yale Medicine


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